Yoga Straps and Bands: How different ones affect your practice

I’ve been lucky enough to experience Mamakuka’s YogaSpheres, The Infinity Strap, and a Gaiam yoga strap with a belt latch. I tried some poses with each product and noticed a lot of differences between them.

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While my Gaiam strap was the most difficult to deal with (it felt like a waste of time for me) until I noticed how much it helped me in dancer’s pose. I could “climb” the strap to stretch myself further after getting an overhand reach. It is the only strap that held on to my limb because it was strapped around it. This is a strap I got when I first started yoga, years ago, so there’s that too, it still looks brand new.

The Infinity Strap is all over the market right now. So when it popped up on sale over Independence Day I grabbed a bamboo band and checked my mailbox everyday excited for it to come. The first thing I did was a handstand because unfortunately, it was too uncomfortable with my Gaiam strap. I had to twist it at least 3 times to get it the right length for my shoulders. I conquered a puppy press up on my first try. It is so soft, so comfortable and definitely functional. The fact that it is a figure 8 and stitched tightly in the middle gives a lot of strength and support to the band, which made my arm balances feel effortlessly. The only issue I have is that there is a lot of fraying around the label and even with the braided stitch I can imagine eventually the whole thing will be in shambles. When I contacted the company they assured me that the stitching is extremely strong and that if it does fray more they will replace it.

My Mamakuka set of YogaSpheres.. I have to admit before anything else that when I was researching straps and bands this is what I was really looking for. It is a set of gradual straps, two in each length.

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When I reached out to MamaKuka they generously sponsored a set for me to try out (without a requirement of a review) and of course I have to share my experience anyway.

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First, I took the largest strap and twisted it A LOT to get it shoulder width and use for a handstand. It was functional but I felt the Infinity Band worked better for handstands. For backbends, reaching over, binding and basically anything else in yoga besides handstands, Mamakuka won hands down.

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For binding there are different sizes to challenge and make a bind possible. I felt the most stretch and found a lot of new positions with this set.

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It comes in a cute little bag (which throw all my straps in because the others did not come with a bag). I throw it in my purse to bring my set with me everywhere. The best part about the YogaSpheres are that they are loops so you can use it anywhere, in dancer’s pose I wanted to pull up from my thigh rather than my ankle and the loops fit around any limb.

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Overall, my Gaiam strap probably will not get much more use. My YogaSpheres are part of my daily practice and help me get to the next level but I’m also glad to have my Infinity Strap for arm balances, if not anything else.

If I had to pick one brand to live with, it would be my YogaSpheres, they are the most diverse and adaptable for any practice and I love them!

Below you can see boat pose with each option. While my Gaiam strap and my YogaSpheres both flipped my grip, the strap actually lessened my pose and focused more on arm strength.

How about you? What are your favorite bands or straps? Let me know in the comments below!

Product Review: Yoga Paws

If you haven’t heard of Yoga Paws, you have been missing out.

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They’re just what their name implies, little gloves and footies that have padding and can be used anywhere. Literally, anywhere.

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The company is pretty awesome, rather than me mess up their whole story I’ll let you see what they say about it:

YogaPaws

“Yoga Paws LLC is a mother/daughter adventure which started in 2001 and officially in launched in 2003. Gail (mother) and Jamie (daughter) Getzwiller share a love for travel and yoga which lead to a natural development of the YogaPaws. Over the past 11 years they have embarked on a journey of love and working dedication to produce the best “Paws” possible.  Yoga Paws have been a product and company that cares about spreading the love and allowing all the yogi’s around the world to enjoy as non-slip practice Anytime Anywhere.  🙂

Our Passion:

Yoga-Paws is excited to provide a product that is totally revolutionary in the Yoga world. Offering solutions, comfort, convenience, and security. Giving people the ability to keep up with their practice whether they are traveling overseas or just at the office. Loving Yoga and Life…Yoga-Paws will continue to bring you ingenious products and ideas which help to provide solutions.

Our Service:

We back this all up with customer service that is second to NONE. Exchanges, returns, and inquiries, replacements, wholesale, whatever it may be! Our desire is to continually strive to leave each customer with a feeling of being catered to with impeccable service.

Our Promise:

Yoga-Paws is passionate and deeply devoted to providing the best possible quality at a reasonable price. We promise to create and supply products to help inspire practices which improve the quality of people’s lives. Our deepest thanks for all the love and support.

“When you get to the end of all that light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: whether you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.” – Edward Teller

Make this year the year you learn to fly. Believe in yourself, for you are the gift you give the world.”

It is such a beautiful product and I love the way they feel. I tested the “Elite” set, as described below:

YogaPaws “Elite” FULL SET

The inspiring and unique way to stabilize your foundation when doing yoga postures and Pilates exercises. A revolutionary design provides solid support, extra padding, and non-slip peace of mind. Fitting in your purse, pocket, or travel bag. Going somewhere? No need to lug that mat around with you anymore cause Yoga-Paws are ideal for TRAVEL! “

I put these on and pushed right into a handstand. The extra cushion on my hands gave me the confidence to really push into them to get up without fearing my little joints. I have Lupus and fight daily with the joint pain that makes every action feel like it’s shattering my bones. Fortunately enough for me, there are wonderful people in the world who create these amazing products to help me with my pain. I’ve collected tons of cushions, mats, rollers, bands, straps, blocks and anything you can think of (except a meditation pillow, I really need to get on top of that) and YogaPaws are incredibly unique, I have never come across a product like this.

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I like to explore, hike, travel and find unique places in nature. When you come across a special place, or at least when I come across a special place I get inspired to do yoga. Up until now I only do basic poses in nature, this way I don’t harm my joints. Having YogaPaws has given me the freedom to do so many more poses, with the freedom of whatever strikes me.

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It isn’t just handstands, the gloves help me in all arm balances and in any position where my hands may touch the ground. Having a little cushion at my fingertips is one of the most amazing things for my practice. Now let’s talk about the footies (that’s what I call them) are perfect! Downdog on a rock? No problem. Need a little stability on a sandy (or rocky) beach? Here you go. These are safer than any shoes you’d probably be wearing at the time and provide grip, cushion and a little structure.

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I’m absolutely in love with my YogaPaws! Even though YogaPaws sent me a set to sample, I’m already getting one for my sister as well. I don’t review products I don’t believe in so you can always trust that I will give my honest opinion and experience with a product.

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My favorite Yoga Mat Cleaners 🙏

I recently had to use my toddlers’ yoga mat while they were using mine and noticed how gross it had gotten. Their mat is a light blue seaglass color and mine is a dark seaweed color (beach on my mind obviously). It made me wonder how dirty mine is, even though it’s new.

I’ll admit it. I’m not the clean my mat everyday type. I don’t take my mat out of the house, I actually don’t even use it much. I really should start cleaning it more often, so I did just that. I cleaned it the last three times I used it. Once with a cleaner and microfiber towel from Asutra, once with  a homemade recipe (below), and once with Cuccio Somatology Cleaner.

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Let’s talk Asutra first. The scent is rose and it comes with a microfiber cleaning towel. Here’s the description:

“PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

ASUTRA is all about safe natural, organics products to elevate your practice  This mat cleaner is designed by yoga clean freaks (one is an Organic Chemist) and made specially just for yoga mats and props.  You probably don’t think about yoga mat cleaners but THAT IS ALL WE THINK ABOUT at ASUTRA!  

Our formulas are based on the principle of “saucha”, the sanskrit word for “clean”

Crafted from pure, all natural organic oils and botanicals. Free of synthetic chemicals, artificial colors, fragrances, preservatives, alcohol and detergents. Safe for yogis with sensitive skin. 100% safe and non-toxic

SCENT OF SOOTHING SWEET ROSE

Not only do you get a super clean mat but the sweet rose scent left behind is light and aromatic so it doesn’t distract you from your practice whether ts yoga or meditation.  It smells wonderful and contains therapeutic properties because its blended with pure, organic peppermint essential oil.  No perfumes or artificial fragrances. 

SOAP AND WATER ISN’T ENOUGH

Soap and water will not kill bacteria and fungi. We use all natural castile soap but more importantly, all of our mat cleaners are infused with tea tree essential oil which is one of the most powerful essential oils that exist to eradicate all types of fungus, bacteria, viruses, mold, and anything unwanted on your mat – NATURALLY.

CLEANSE YOUR MAT IN MINUTES

You know you should be cleaning your mat but think its just too much hassle – this is for you.  Now you can detox your yoga mat after class or before your practice. and it will be clean, germ free, and smell absolutely wonderful for your next session.  

This evaporates quickly, leaves no slippery residue and does not compromise the integrity of your mat. No more excuses. This yoga mat cleaner has been extensively tested on hundreds of mats with consistent results.

CLEANING YOUR MAT IS A MUST

An untreated yoga mat has 100,000 bacteria per cubic centimeter!  Your mat is exposed to the studio floor, sweat, airborne germs, etc… Don’t expose your feet, hands, face and overall body to a dirty, germy mat.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • 100% All natural and organic ingredients only
  • Scientifically formulated and proven to kill odor causing bacteria
  • SAFE FOR ALL MATS & PROPS – Cleans, Restores & Refreshes
  • Natural, fresh scent, not bleach or chemicals like other cleaners.
  • Includes a handy, super soft, 14in x 14in microfiber cleaning towel.
  • 4oz bottle has an efficient spray tip nozzle and will go a long way.
  • Just spray, wipe down and air dry – NO SLIPPERY RESIDUE!
  • NO ANIMAL TESTING, Non Toxic, Eco Friendly, Bio-degradable,  

INGREDIENTS YOU CAN PRONOUNCE

  • Saponified (just means turn into soap) Organic Oils of Coconut, Jojoba, and Olive
  • Natural Essential Oil Blends for antibacterial properties
  • Organic Rosemary Extract
  • Distilled Water (so no impurities)
  • Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil & Organic Rose Essential Oil

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OUR 100% GUARANTEE

  • We are confident you will love using Soothing Sweet Rose mat cleaner.  Clean Yoga is the Best Yoga!
  • If for some strange reason you are not happy, simply return the unused portion and we will provide you a full refund.  But keep the microfiber cleaning towel as our gift.

SHIPPING & RETURNS

  • FREE Shipping on all orders over $49  (USA Only)
  • Easy 30 Day No Hassle Returns.  Try it and you’ll see why.
  • We guarantee you will love ASUTRA products.”

So what do I have to say about it? I LOVE this mat cleaner, it’s a pretty large bottle super easy to use, wipes nicely and the towel is a plus. I used a lot less of this cleaner than any other to get my mat clean. The scent stays! I did yoga 3 times after using it and kept sticking my face in my mat to take it in. I loved how the scent added to my practice. Asutra is definitely on my go to list for yoga needs.

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My second method was a handmade option from The Elephant Journal:  “Jennifer’s Tea Tree Yoga Mat Cleaner

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 cup of vinegar or Witch-hazel (without alcohol), optional
  • 8-15 drops tea tree oil
  • 6-10 drops eucalyptus oil (or lavender)”

 

This is a great method, I’m not one for detergents either so I like the holistic methods. The only thing with this method is a lot of yoga mat cleaners are all natural and organic as well. I can’t stand the smell of vinegar. It made me vomit when I was pregnant (but I never could stand it, even before that). You can swap the oils for any scent you want, which might help me in the future. This would be my go to when I run out of Asutra.

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My last method (which was actually the first one I used) was the Cuccio Somatology Essential Kit from the June YogiSurprise box.

Cuccio Somatology Daily Yoga Essentials in a convenient Try Me Kit.  A simple, harmonious way to sample products specifically designed to help enhance your daily yoga experience.

Cuccio Somatology represents a new approach to health and wellness through full body awareness.  Each product is formulated with the finest ingredients with a unique awareness of the importance of mind, body and spirit to help you balance and achieve tranquility in your life.

Begin making Cuccio Somatology an integral part of your daily ritual.

  • Balancing Oil 2oz. – A pick-me-up experience to awaken the scenes.
  • Balancing Lotion 2oz. – A perfect skin hydration for non-oily extremely soft skin.
  • Yoga Mat Sani Spray Cleanser 2oz. – Specifically formulated to cleanse, condition and care for yoga mats.”

The scent is very light and I ended up using the entire bottle for two mats (it’s a small bottle). It cleans pretty well and I used a soft wash cloth that I already had. For me,  the size isn’t convenient and the scent of Asutra Sweet Rose was more enjoyable.

These are my three favorite. So being on the list is saying just how much I love them. I usually get small travel size cleaners so I can try them before I commit. I’m so sensitive to smell, it greatly impacts my attitude and my stomach. Needless to say, I’ve tried plenty and these are the only ones I can say I would come back to.

Disclosure: I received the Asutra cleaner in exchange for an honest review. This did not effect my opinion.  I get YogiSurprise at a discount as an ambassador. You can get a lifetime discount too (or just per box) with this link: YogiSurprise

 

What’s your favorite cleaning method for your mat? What kind of scents to you like to charge your practice? Let me know in the comments!

There’s a HUGE coloring book GIVEAWAY!

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Here’s the link: READ IT FORWARD

Here’s what it’s about: “We may have left the vast, endless weeks of grade school summer vacation behind, but we can still kick back and relax elementary-school style!  So sharpen your color pencils and settle in with our young-at-heart bundle of adult coloring books.  Even better, our friends at Litographs are also going to give away a literary tote bag to five grand prize winners.

Color Me Jane by Jacqui Oakley -Color in Elizabeth and Darcy, Anne and Captain Wentworth, Emma and Mr. Knightly, and all your favorite scenes and moments from the world of Jane Austen’s classic novels.

WAVE by Shantell Martin – Once opened, it unfolds into a nine-foot-long panel, featuring a continuous and dream-like illustration by rock star contemporary artist Shantell Martin.

The Time Garden Note Cards by Daria Song – The Time Garden Note Cards transfers Daria Song’s magical artwork onto gorgeous, trendy stationery that will please the sender who colors them  as much as the recipient who opens the envelope.

Wonderland by Amily Shen – Follow the White Rabbit into this imaginative adult coloring book inspired by Lewis Carroll’sAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland, featuring intricate pen-and-ink drawings by acclaimed artist Shen

Vogue Colors A to Z  by Valerie Steiker -Twenty-six archival magazine covers from 1912 to 1932, by ten celebrated illustrators living here and abroad, take you back to a more playful and whimsical moment of boas, bows, hats and headpieces, fans, pearls and gloves, and even exotic animals.

Enter for a chance to win!”

Hurry! Go enter!

One Year to Serenity #SerenityYogaYear

This is going to be interesting. I started sharing my yoga journey April 15, 2016 and have shared it everyday since on Instagram (@saveserenityyoga). Well, my birthday is this month, YAY! CANCERS! (don’t get too emotional on me now).

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So I came up with this crazy idea. Inspired by the movie Julie & Julia (click the link to read what the movie is about) I’ve decided to take 365 days, a journey through The Yoga Bible. Each day will have a “pose of the day”, where I will practice the asana and give a descriptive method of how to perform the pose and my general thoughts of my journey on that day.

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To make it even more interesting I’m inviting all of YOU to take this journey with me! You don’t have to do yoga now, or maybe you never were interested in it but I’m challenging you, especially you, to join me some days and either send me your photo here, by email (saveserenityblog@gmail.com), or on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook with #serenityyogayear.

Need more to entice you? I’ve been collecting my favorite mindful, yoga, fitness, barre, ballet and health products and will for the next entire year. I will pick winners at the end of this journey and send them all different prizes. I’ve already got a yoga strap, all natural handmade soaps, mindfulness tools, headbands, face scrubs and that’s just to start.

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But seriously, the real prizes are more flexibility, more strength, confidence, pride, an open mind, easing joint pain, better emotional coping skills, less anxiety and depression, weight loss, less anger, less irritability, better management of health conditions and more! These are just the results I’ve experienced but there are tons more. Here is an article for some other health benefits of yoga > The Yoga Journal.

So here’s the challenge:

Where: http://www.saveserenity.wordpress.com AND @saveserenityyoga

When: Will be posted everyday starting July 18, 2016 and end July 18, 2017

What: A yoga pose each day, with description use #serenityyogayear

Here is the flow in which I will be following:

Pranayama (breathing)
Gazes
Mudras
Locks and miscellaneous
Meditations
Preparatory poses
Forward/Folding
Standing
Seated/Floor
Twists/Abs
Arm Balances
Backbends
Inversions/Headstanding
Splits
Relaxation

Yes! It’s a lot, it’s an entire year of practice! Again, I will post photos, and methods. I promise full descriptions and I promise even more that I will struggle and probably fail at a lot of these. But I will try my hardest and show you guys my best shot!

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365 days, 1 journey to inner peace!

So what do you say? Join me! Everyone can do it. I never thought I could, “too many health problems” I told myself. And then I allowed myself to be free and here I am today. Less medication, less pain, happier and using yoga as my form of physical therapy.

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A quick thank you to the brands and companies below for encouraging me along my yoga journey! Check them out (and get some great discounts) for my favorite products!

Yoginiology 🙏  Yoga Lifestyles🙏

MamaKuka🙏   Plexus Yoga Wheel 🙏  Gita Yoga Clothes 🙏

Neulotus (use Amanda10 for 10% off) 🙏  Yogisurprise (15% off with this link)🙏

Chameleon (use SaveSerenity for 20% off)

 Sandcloud Towels (Use AmandaCo25 for 25% off) 🙏    Infinity Strap 🙏

Inner Beast Clothing (use Saveserenity or this link for a discount)🙏  Jade Yoga 🙏   Barre3 🙏   PiYo 🙏  Graze

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